Piedmont Tech Students Present in Washington

November 13, 2014

Chemistry Students Present in WashingtonTwo Piedmont Technical College students recently made the trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) conference. The trip allowed students to make presentations at the Capital on the importance of undergraduate research.

“The conference gave the students an opportunity to present their research and to show members of Congress how undergraduate research is having an impact on student education,” said Tracy Wright, chemistry instructor.

Students Rosanna Cubillan and Maryann Contreras of Greenwood presented posters and data on a water quality research project for Rocky Creek in Greenwood that was completed over the summer. While Congress was not in session, the students were given the opportunity to present to staff members for Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Jeff Duncan.

The CCURI is focused on community colleges because of the increasing number of students starting their studies at two-year colleges across the nation. According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), an estimated 11.6 million students were enrolled at a community college (7.3 full time). These numbers account for about half of the U.S. postsecondary student population. 

“There is a misconception that research means being in a lab, slicing and dicing, and that’s not what it is,” said Dale Smoak, department head for sciences. “Research is about how you form a hypothesis and how you explore that hypothesis. For areas like public service, for instance, that means working in the service learning component and being able to write a reflection on what learning objective they met.”

The students will be making another presentation in Charlotte at the regional conference. Wright says she plans to continue the research project for all her students and hopes they will be able to return to the national conference.

“The research experience is being integrated earlier and earlier into the undergraduate experience,” said Wright. “This is a proactive effort to make sure our transfer students are fully prepared when they get to that third year. We want to make sure the playing field is level when they get to the four-year university.”

Photo Caption: Two Piedmont Technical College students recently made the trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) conference. Pictured are, from left, Rossana Cubillan of Greenwood; Scott Garber, staff member for Sen. Lindsey Graham; Maryanne Conteras of Greenwood; Tracy Wright, PTC chemistry instructor; and Jessica Phillips-Tyson, staff member for Sen. Graham. The trip allowed students to make presentations at the Capital on the importance of undergraduate research.